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Giving Socks as long as it takes to build his trust and confidence

Socks is an English springer spaniel, who came to our Hertfordshire centre in early January 2021 as a stray.

During his initial assessment on arrival, Socks showed little to no interest in toys or food, and was shrinking away from human contact.

However, he showed a flicker of interest in Shelley, a Junior Animal Care Leader, and herself an experienced Spaniel owner. Shelley was allocated to work with Socks for his first few days to help him settle.

Socks would often huddle quietly at the back of his kennel. If anyone approached, he would move as far away as possible, shrinking, wide-eyed, head turned away, squeezing so close to the back wall, it looked like he wanted it to swallow him up.

Any sign of a hand near him and he would flinch and give out a low rumbling growl. He wouldn’t eat the treats or bowls of food provided for him until he was alone.

Shelley worked patiently and calmly, earning Sock’s trust, sitting calmly and quietly with him. Socks gradually started to relax with Shelley and would let her stroke under his chin, and take him out on a lead for toilet breaks.

Shelley helped introduce Socks to several other team members, so they too could work with him. This was a huge step for such a fearful dog. At first, he was very scared and on edge when out walking in the grounds of the centre. His tail would be between his legs, his head down, and he would be pulling as if trying to get away.

The staff walked him on a long lead, so he had distance while he was in the early stages of learning to trust people and finding his feet.

They noticed that Socks was showing positive, happy body language towards Cookie (a fellow resident and female lurcher). When he saw her at a distance, his tail would go like a helicopter and he’d go all wiggly and bouncy, a side of him that hadn’t been seen before. So the team gradually introduced the two of them.

Socks adores Cookie, and now has regular walks and play dates with her. She even helps him on the days when he doesn’t want to come out of his kennel, by waiting encouragingly outside it with her handler.

They’ve now been moved into kennels next door to each other, and have a little window between them to see what each other are up to.

Shelley has continued to work with Socks, taking him off-site with her own dogs.

The team would like to say a special thank you to Natural Instinct. In order to help Socks build a positive association with staff and the centre environment, they found a food that he really loved - the Natural Instinct raw food that was offered to him (Natural Instinct kindly make regular donations to support several of the dogs at the Watford Centre).

He liked it so much, that he would eat it even if staff were near his kennel, and they were able to feed it to him from Kongs.

Interactive feeders can have many benefits, including helping to increase a dog’s confidence, giving them an activity to tire their mind and body, and the calming effect of licking and chewing something they are allowed to. 

Two months after arriving at the centre, Socks now shows a positive interest in what’s going on around him. He can still be worried by unfamiliar people, but if he knows you, he comes to the front of his kennel and takes treats.
Find out more about Socks by visiting his here: Rehome a dog - Socks

Sometimes, animals like Socks come to NAWT with more challenging behaviours. This means that more time will be needed for those behaviours to be worked on before they are put up for adoption. At NAWT, our policy will always be to give animals as long as they need to be ready to find their forever home.

If you’d like to help more animals like Socks (and husky Fluke) - by giving them the time they need to be ready to find their forever home, please click the Donate button below.

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